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Mama, This Ain't Utopia After All - Or What Coretext Means to Me
Mark Jones

How fitting that we begin the 21st century in almost diametrically-opposed reality to the science fiction fantasy that preceded the turning of the millennium.

The classical images, circa 1920, of what the 21st century was supposed to be like this anachronistic nostalgia for the future would never have stood up to scrutiny, and those of us born in the latter half of the 20th century knew this. We knew that the images that came from The Jetsons or Arthur C. Clarke were more fun than prediction, more commentary than strategy. We are not all zooming around on our private skycrafts (though some are), we are not wearing expensive silvery clothes (though some are), we do not have jobs that simply require us to push a button all day (though some do), we are not cloning ourselves for spare parts (though some are), and people certainly are not living in space-pods (though four are).

No, for us, the future was about convenience and fairness. It was about doing your job in 30 hours a week, and having more time for your friends and family. It was about wiping out discrimination and bigotry. It was about the paperless office that would allow us to conserve trees. It was about finding new ways to participate in the shaping of society. It was about healing faster when we got sick, and healing everyone, not just those who could afford it. And it was about letting the artist in each of us break through, even while we still made our fortunes. In other words, our future was about living in contradiction.

How ironic then that we find ourselves at the start of this new century, and if anything our socio-technological bubble is bursting, as if our own disbelief in the predictions of our own future has lead to its dismantling self-fulfilling prophecy. Were working more hours than ever before. Tech stocks are crashing as much as the computers themselves. Cell phones have become the new nuisance in shared public spaces like movie theatres. Content still hasnt really caught on in a way that allows its creators to thrive, unless youre Disney or AOL and own everything. Laptop computers are assembled by slave labour in a third world country, aided by free trade and the diminishing power of world governments. Our devices, while becoming continuously smaller, may soon live inside us. And surveillance, that fine little plan that would make us good folk safer, has turned its watchful eye onto us now, peering into our lives in ways that allow it to be re-sold for entertainment at the highest of prices.

It wasnt supposed to be like this.

But it isnt Brave New World. Not at all. Many artists and activists, historically on the fringes of society, think the view from here at this point in our history is kind of interesting. Your crashing stocks (which most of us could never afford anyway) give us ideas for meetings. The peering surveillance cameras are something we turn into an exhibition. We explore disconnection on the Internet, the organic in the mechanical, the soul in the clone and the big picture through the microscope. We use cell phones manufactured by trans-national corporations to rally thousands of people to a demonstration to oust a corrupt president in the Philippines.

At the connecting point in which art, culture and technology intersects with the issues of the contemporary world is where we offer Coretext. We created this space because we think that what is happening is not just about art on its own, or technology on its own, or even the new activism by itself, but by all of these things being affected by our slowly waking up from our fantasies of what we thought the 21st century might be about. Not about nostalgia for the past either that predictable trap of left-wing politics but about trying to understand what is happening in a way that allows us to reclaim our responsibility for it.

Many of us spent the 1990s arguing the issues of identity politics, and as Naomi Klein points out, completely missed the fact that while we were fighting for fairer representation of peoples in society and its media, society and its media itself were being sold off. The age of identity politics is slowly drawing to a close, and what is being asked of all people of good will is a new focus from argument to action. We offer Coretext as a place where you can come to read about things and people - artists, thinkers, technologists - who aren't satisfied with the preached western utopian visions of our contemporary age, and might have something else to say through their work and their words. We invite you to participate.